Maddie's wheels arrived about 10 days ago. We ordered her cart from Doggon' Wheels and have been very impressed with the quality and ease of use. It has a removable neoprene "saddle" that can double as a rear-end harness (though she doesn't seem very impressed with the harness idea). It is custom built, so while some assembly is required, it fits when you put it together. The wheels themselves are air-filled and fairly fat, so they can handle all kinds of terrain. More importantly, they turn very easily for maneuverability. And they are angled out slightly, which makes the cart more stable and also makes it less likely she will run over her own back feet. It comes with rear stirrups, but we are not at the stage of needing those yet. Of course, without stirrups, foot protection is a must and Maddie swears by Pawz dog booties. Size medium (blue) even though the packages says she should be small (red).
Day 1, we put the cart together and put her in it. She looked horrified. She went backwards (this is apparently a common reaction). She didn't want to move, even for treats. We sort of helped her along with the harness, but then decided a tug toy was a better way to get her moving. She went a few steps forward a couple times and tugged on her toy, and we were happy with that. Yay!
That was a Friday evening. Saturday morning, we carried her across the street to the park, with Jack and some frisbees. There was lots of hesitation and more going backwards, but she was so excited about the frisbee that she forgot about the cart and ran and played. She can't see very well anymore (poor girl is a bit of a wreck!) so she doesn't fly after thrown toys, but we toss it in front of her and she trundles after it. Progress! I was so happy to see her play that I must admit I cried a little.
We spent the rest of the week working on getting her used to it. Every time we put her in, it's like she's never seen it before and we have to start over with coaxing her along. Once she gets moving, she does great. By Friday night we were ready for a longer walk. I drove her over to the main paved path in the park, my husband walked over to meet us with Jack, and we went all the way around the big loop. She looked so happy!
Yesterday was rainy all day so she rested up, but today we took her to a different park about 20 minutes away. She remembered that she still IS a Corgi, cart and all, when she ran off across the grass to eat some apples someone had dropped near a picnic table. She still looks at us like we are a little nuts every time we put her in, but she warms up to it a little faster each time. Good girl Maddie!
Jack has been a trooper and the wheels don't bother him a bit, though he has learned to get out of the way when she comes running, because she has no clue where they are.
After so many months of watching her slowly lose the ability to do things, one by one, it's wonderful to see her get out and have fun again.
Yes, Jane. We had the rehab vet do the measuring. There were 8-10 different measurements-- length, height at shoulder, height at hips, circumference of chest, circumference of thighs. I didn't trust myself to measure her correctly. It was worth the $50 cart-fitting fee to have someone else do it.
Great photos Beth. Very heartwarming! I imagine you can only use it outside, am I right about that? I ask because I have a friend with a 12 yr. old Corgi who is having serious mobility problems....
Well, that depends. Technically it can be used inside but you have to be careful your dog doesn't get hung up on doorways, corners, furniture, etc. I suppose if you had a really open floorplan it could work. But then you need to watch the dog constantly to make sure they don't get stuck or something. They can be quick, even in the wheels, and once you are used to watching a mobility-impaired dog, you forget just how quick they can be.
We will move some furniture and put her in her cart in the living room for special weekend morning play sessions, and then let her run into the kitchen when it's time to "trade for treats!" But yesterday morning she tried to go into her crate with the chair attached. So as I said, it can be done but you need to be vigilant and quick enough to catch your dog if they start going the wrong way.
The other thing we noticed is that after months of being not-so-mobile, and months before that of being mobile but a bit unsteady, she has more or less forgotten all her training, or has learned that we won't enforce it. So you have to be ready to physically catch her and can't rely on verbal commands.
Then again, if the dog has slowed down in other ways besides the main impairment, they may just wander around slowly which really shouldn't cause a problem as long as someone is around. Madison is still otherwise youthful so she will run, given the chance.
Thanks for all the details. Unfortunately I don't think it would work for my friend who has a small house and a husband who is either in a wheelchair or sometimes uses a walker, but has issue with balance..... I was not sure if I should suggest it or not, now I know not to.
I love Maddie's smile on her walks. She looks so happy to be up on all 4 piggy toes and outside. I'm glad she's getting used to the cart. Thanks for sharing the pictures.
We are definitely making progress! Today it took only one mention of "treats!" to get her moving. I must admit that during the first week or so, she didn't seem to have any learning from one time in the cart to the next and I was getting a little frustrated, wondering if we'd have to cheer and coax her every single time. But these past two days she seems to really be getting the hang of it. She even wanders off by herself into the grass to sniff and potty and find stuff to eat and generally act like a dog. It makes us SO happy to see her like this, and even Jack seems happy to have his walk buddy back with him. He and Maddie aren't exactly close, but Jack does like to be in a group.
That is great Beth! Maddie looks wonderful and she is so lucky to have you. It is awful when they start to decline but it really helps to be thankful for the joy they can still have.
Awww. She looks happy. I'm glad for you and her that she is making the transition so well. Keep up the good work!
Aww, Beth, seeing her so happy and smiling brought tears to my eyes. The joy is so wonderful to see!